Finding An Unseen God – A Book Review

Posted: August 17, 2009 in books, reading, words, writing

Below is the book review I offered for ViralBloggers.


If you’re looking to engage a delightful story of discovering faith, then Alicia Britt Chole’s Finding An Unseen God: Reflections Of A Former Atheist is just right for you. As one who frequently digests academic theology, Chole’s memoir of faith was a wonderful change of pace. Sprinkled with the occasional clever turn of phrase and Chole’s magnificent way of drawing the reader into her story, Finding invites reader’s to simply sit back and hear a beautiful story of emerging faith.

The Best Part

The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up Finding is the captivating manner in which it is told. The cover itself is an actual word-find. And for folks like me, who loved word finds as a kid, I was super-excited to be able to work the word-find before diving into the first chapter. Each of these words, turns-out, becomes important to Chole’s story. What’s more, as Chole tells her story, the chapters are intermixed. The first chapter you’ll read is Chapter 52 and the second chapter is Chapter 1. Half of the book (every other chapter) tells Chole’s story from the perspective of her rearing, while the next chapter recounts where she is now and how she is interpreting the present and past events of her life.  The reader is moving through Chole’s story in two directions.

Second, Chole’s story itself is told with a clear voice and delighting manner. You’ll feel as if you’re sitting with Alicia and hearing her talk about growing up as an atheist only later to encounter Jesus. As you engage Chole,  you’ll sense that life has been dark and bleak and black for your friend, yet it’s that blackness that somehow lead her to the foot of the cross, as darkness often does. Chole becomes a conversation partner, someone you sit and have coffee with as she reveals just enough of herself that you are interested and feel as though you’re getting to know her, and not so much that it seems as if she is neurotic and hogging the conversation.

What’s more, if like me, you’re concerned deeply with gender-justice in churches, you’ll be refreshed by a genuine encounter with God that reminds you why female voices, prayers and pens are important to the church.

Third, you’ll hear from a committed Atheist. While her arguments for her own atheism may not be the strongest you’ve ever heard, they vibrate with rings of authenticity that allows the reader to know that for whatever reasons she choose to be an Atheist, so did choose for herself.

The Second to Best Part

It wouldn’t be right to leave you simply with the brilliance of this little book, there is one thing – that while not bad – you might want to be aware of before you plunk down your stimulus rebate on this book.

What is it? you ask. Simply this: At times, Chole gets a little preachy. I’m usually OK with preachy, after all, if someone has a message, we’re bound to advocate it strongly. However, when Chole’s preachy-ness reared its head in this artfully designed conversation, it put the brakes on the discourse. It was the only time I felt that Chole was losing her voice and needing to insert some paranesis at the request of a publisher. Can’t you hear that conversation now, “No one wants to just read your story, you have to advocate some kind of behavior.” This, however, is it. That’s the only editorial comment I will offer.

Should You Buy It?

Finding An Unseen God is worth the time, and it won’t take much of it. If you’re looking for advocacy or heavy-duty theology then this book is not for you. If, on the other hand, you want to reconnect with the simple story of a loving God who pursues His people even when they’d rather be left alone, then get your copy today.

  1. Hey Sean,

    Thank you so much for the review, for taking the time to digest the book and offer such a clear window.

    On a personal level, I’m all up for editing the next reprint! I would be so grateful to know which portions fell into the “preachy” category. In very fabric, I’m a mentor who feels that influence is best offered through presence, listening, and an occasionally thought-provoking question. Downloads were not my intent. So your sight into where that line was crossed would be very, very welcome and could help the next generation of readers not stumble over my errors in their journeys.


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